Science fiction and fantasy                                            


directed by Vincenzo Natali

Splice poster  
Splice begins with a difficult birth. But instead of some human boy or girl emerging, the happy result everyone's cooing over are some very alien sacks of sausage. Newstead Pharmaceuticals is in the business of making creatures to help in the search for cures for various diseases, but these gene-spliced beings aren't the cuddliest or most photogenic.

Clive (Adrian Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) are passionate about their science, but their project attracts moral outrage which only gets worse when a demonstration they set up goes badly wrong. People are afraid of what might happen if modified human DNA is spliced with that of other animals. When their project is threatened with closure Elsa responds by creating one last creature to keep their work alive. But has she cooked up a monster?

Inevitably the creature Dren (played as an adult by Delphine Chaneac) has an accelerated growth rate, so we're not hanging around waiting for her to do something interesting. She grows and ages with terrifying speed, developing new talents all the time. In time she looks increasingly human, yet always demonic as well with those curious backward-bending legs and a poison-tipped tail. The visual effects in this movie are very effective.However in spite of Dren's alien look we feel for her because of her isolation and her cruelly short lifespan.

Clive and Elsa end up smuggling Dren out of sight, but as she gets older she gets difficult to hide, and she begins to resist her containment. They're scientists who think with their hearts rather than their brains, and they often seem to make bad choices. But they know that if Dren gets loose she could destroy their careers, end up hurting someone, or get hurt herself. They've crossed a line, but should they carry on hiding her or put her down as a failed and dangerous specimen? It's a battle between Clive and Elsa's nurturing instincts and their sense of self-preservation and reason.

The story builds up to a tense finale, peppered with violent outbursts and monstrous twists. In some ways it's predictable, ramping up the horror like an updated version of Frankenstein. The message is clear, and exaggerated for effect: don't mess with human DNA and turn it into gene soup, or else. Of course, it doesn't help that the two scientists involved are bent on disregarding every possible safety precaution and ignoring every scrap of common sense. Part alarmist anti-science propaganda, part fun scary monster in the woods flick, although it's imperfect Splice is a diverting, watchable mix.

12th July 2011

Film Details

Year: 2009

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 15

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3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson